The 1960s brought us addicted television audiences all over the world no shortage of brain pan-melting live-action programming, and some of the craziest – and mostly forgotten – of those shows came from Japan. The kaiju craze that kicked off with the success of the first Godzilla movie has greatly influenced Japanese film and television to this day, but many of those beloved series either ended up distant memories for young viewers with active imaginations or were poorly dubbed and packaged for American audiences to enjoy on their local UHF stations at 6 in the morning before heading off to school. One of those shows was Giant Robo, a tokusatsu created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama that aired for one season from October 1967 to April 1968.
Produced by Toei Company Ltd, Giant Robo was later purchased for broadcast on U.S. stations by the television arm of the great drive-in and exploitation movie company American International Pictures. Under the supervision of Reuben Guberman the show was dubbed into English and had its title changed to Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot. It would continue to run in syndication throughout the next two decades and even had several episodes edited together to create the movie Voyage into Space. The show reached cult status with fans of Japanese fantasy and sci-fi but has long been unavailable on home video in the U.S. Shout! Factory is about to rectify that egregious misfortune this March when they release Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot: The Complete Series on DVD (available for pre-order now).
You can check out the DVD cover art here below.
This heartwarming tale of boy and his robot – Did I mention the boy wears a jet pack and the robot is friggin’ huge and has fiery breath, laser eyes, and fingers that shoot missiles and the boy can command said giant robot to attack and destroy? – who battle various deadly threats to the planet in the form of humongous monsters and alien invasions will be available on DVD for the first time in the U.S. in a four-disc collector’s edition set that includes all 26 episodes of the original series. The only extra feature in this set will be a 24-page booklet complete with a special new essay by Japanese fantasy film and TV expert August Ragone. Still, when you are packing over eleven hours of a giant robot beating the holy hell out of various monsters with insane super powers into one fantastic box set what more do you really need?
With Guillermo del Toro’s similarly themed Pacific Rim opening this summer and a new American take on Godzilla due in theaters next year the timing of this set seems very appropriate and kaiju fans will really dig it.
Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot: The Complete Series will be available on DVD starting March 26, 2013. You can pre-order the set here.